A Quick Visit to the San Diego Museum of Natural History

Rich in both culture and history, San Diego seemed the perfect place to hide from the Pacific Northwest ‘Snowmageddon’.

San Diego

Theresa and I recently celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary; where does the time go? She was looking for a more ‘wife-worthy’ vacation rather than the usual ‘Follow me to the back-country honey” and I felt I needed to deliver. Where to go? Preferably warm, or at least warmer the Seattle but would be interesting to us both…San Diego!

In my youth, I had lived in Riverside for a short time and I remember fondly heading down to San Diego for the weekend. I loved it there. What wasn’t to love? From the beaches to the shop, the history and especially Balbo Park. I wanted to see how much had changed in the last 20 years.

Abbreviated History

Here’s a very abbreviated history of the region.

On September 28, 1542, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed into the bay and named the region “San Miguel.” Ashore near what is now Point Loma, Cabrillo and his men encountered some of the Kumeyaay whose population numbered around 20,000.

The Kumeyaay had settled the area about 2,000 years ago but there is some evidence that they may have been in the area much longer. They cultivated plants and created astronomical observatories, and their knowledge benefited the Spanish who relied on their help to navigate and to survive.

The San Diego we know today began on July 16, 1769, with the dedication of Mission San Diego de Alcalá by Spanish friars Father Junípero Serra and Father Juan Crespí. The original mission was located in what is today Presidio Park, overlooking Old Town State Historic Park.

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The facade of The San Diego Cactus and Succulent Society.
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Colorful tile on display at the Spanish Art Village in Balboa Park.

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Part of this summers AVO team atop Mt. Iliamna which we supported out of Snug Harbor Cannery. Made new friends this summer and it was great to be a part of this effort. .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #travelphotography #nature #naturephotography #mountains #wanderlust #outdoors #alaskalove #optoutside #wildlife #explore #alaskalife #photography #adventure #explorealaska #sharingalaska #photooftheday #alaska #landscape #beautiful #fishing #thealaskalife @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

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A raining afternoon on the Green River at Kanaskat-Palmer State Park. Beautiful country; will certainly be coming back to explore the area. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics #wastateparks ...

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Theresa conducting a #COASST bird survey just south of La Push. Looks like winter is coming. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnw #washington #washingtonstate #pacificnorthwest #pnwonderland #nature #optoutside #washingtonexplored #science #upperleftusa #olympicpeninsula #beach #cascadiaexplored #wildlife #explorewashington #conservation #pnwlife #washingtonweed #wacoast #washingtonstatefair #naturephotography #washingtonnationals #washingtontrails #wander #hiking #olympicnationalpark @washingtondiscovered #WildOlympics @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler ...

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Last nights sunset on the Washington Coast. Weather wasn’t quite so nice for our #COASST survey but this is a nice way to relax the day after. ...

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Headed back to La Push for our #COASST survey. Forecast could go either way but it will be beautiful regardless.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #thatpnwlife #pnwcollective #explore #pnw #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #nature #photography #pacificnorthwest #optoutside #travel #hiking #neverstopexploring #upperleftusa #wildernessculture #naturephotography #washingtonstate #pnwonderland #washington #adventure #pnwlife #wanderlust #getoutside #northwestisbest ...

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Have to wait till next summer to try and improve on this shot, but here's my latest attempt at capturing the Milky Way above the crater on Mt. St. Helens. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #nightscaper #astrophotography #magicpict #astrophoto #ic #night #nightphotography #longexposure #longexposureoftheday #colors #amazing #nightsky #longexpohunter #milkywaygalaxy #natgeospace #amazingearth #startrails #greatshotz #dream #master #milkywaychasers #jaw #milkyway #worldshotz # #stars #universe #astro #ig #big ...

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Fall colors along the shores of Elwha River. We'll be returning to the special area of the Olympic National Park later this month.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

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Early morning fog on Lake Slyvia. Fall in the Pacific Northwest has a special magic. We enjoyed the cool sunny days..⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics #wastateparks ...

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Lake Sylvia State Park starting to show some fall colors.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics #wastateparks ...

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Heading back to Lake Sylvia State Park this weekend to try and shoot this waterfall with the fall colors. Hopefully the weather cooperates. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics #wastateparks ...

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Today we headed up the Calawah River to explore. Found a wonderful DNR campsite named Kalhanie. Unfortunately it was closed and looks like it has been for some while.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pdx #oregonexplored #oregon #love #adventure #washingtonstate #photography #photooftheday #thatpnwlife #mountains #pnw #explore #optoutside #getoutside #washington #travel #portland #naturephotography #seattle #upperleftusa #art #pnwlife #wanderlust #pnwcollective #nature #forkswashington #pnwonderland #cascadiaexplored #hiking #pacificnorthwest ...

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Last summer sunset at La Push. Days are getting noticeably shorter and of course we are dealing with some showers. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

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Heading back out to La Push this weekend to resume our bird surveys for #COASST. The warm sunny days of summer are already behind us but at least we haven't yet started our winter storms; fingers crossed. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #pnwonderland #pnw #thenwadventure #upperleftusa #pnwdiscovered #cascadiaexplored #pnwparadise #optoutside #wildernessculture #wanderwashington #pacificnorthwest #pnwlife #nature #keepitwild #pnwphotographer #lifeofadventure #exploretocreate #beautifuldestinations #hikingadventures #wanderlust #thatpnwlife #explorewashington #roamtheplanet #thegreatpnw #photooftheday #washingtonexplored @washingtondiscovered @nextstop24 #nextstop24traveler #WildOlympics ...

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Looking down the Lillian River Valley in the heart of the Olympics. ⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #nature #naturephotography #oregon #roadtrip #adventure #photooftheday #seattle #pnwonderland #optoutside #mountains #travel #olympicpeninsula #pnw #love #hiking #thatpnwlife #washingtonexplored #pacificnorthwest #getoutside #upperleftusa #cascadiaexplored #explore #beach #photography #forest #washingtonstate #wanderlust #pnwlife #washington #olympicnationalpark ...

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Storms have passed. A bit of blue sky is trying to make itself seen. Tranquil evening with the campground to ourselves.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #fortflaglerstatepark #pnw #fortflagler #pugetsound #pacificnorthwest #nordland #porttownsend #travel #peninsula #pnwonderland #wa #olympicpeninsula #nature #beach #washington #explore #upperleftusa #olympicnationalpark #washingtonstate ...

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Drove the Olympic National Parks Obstruction Point road. Low lying clouds blocked most of the view but still a fun outing.⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #travel #getoutside #thatpnwlife #roadtrip #washington #washingtonstate #olympicnationalpark #pnwonderland #pnwlife #love #beach #photooftheday #seattle #explore #wanderlust #olympicpeninsula #nature #photography #adventure #optoutside #hiking #mountains #pnw #naturephotography #upperleftusa #washingtonexplored #forest #pacificnorthwest #cascadiaexplored #oregon ...

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The Mexican War for Independence began in 1810, and by 1821 in the people of Mexico had gained their freedom from Spain. San Diego became part of Mexico in April of 1822 when the Mexican flag was raised over the Presidio.

The United States government pursued an aggressive policy of expansion in the nineteenth century that put it on a collision course with Mexico. In June 1846, U.S. Army Captain John C. Frémont, guide Kit Carson, and a group of California settlers calling themselves The Bears staged a revolt in Sonoma (California) against Mexican rule. The war ended in 1848 and San Diego became part of the United States with the admission of California to the Union as the thirty-first State in 1850.

Needless to say, San Diego is a true melting pot of cultures which is reflected in everything from the architect to the cuisine.

Museum of Natural History

For me, one of the biggest pulls of the area is the Museum of Natural History. Being the good sport she is Theresa indulge me with a visit although it may not have been her first choice. However, once inside I saw her more than once get excited over a display. It may not look as imposing as some of the other structure in Balboa Park but it currently houses over 8 million specimens. These specimens include animals, plants, fossils, shells, insects and spiders, minerals, and gems—in storage areas underground and behind gallery walls. Some of the fossils on display are incredible. Full Saber Bears, Mammoths are just some of what you get to experience. Something new and equally exciting for me was just how much was contributed to the museum of the years by citizen-scientist. There is a room highlighting their unique history and connection with the museum. Many of the journals are on display along with some of the specimens they collected in the field. Even today the museum in conjunction with independent naturalists, and outside organizations have created numerous citizen science projects aimed at helping scientists better understand the species that exist in any given region at any given time. I would encourage anyone with an interest in helping contribute to the exploration and creation of scientific knowledge to follow look at the various programs listed here.
ground-sloth
A fossil of an extinct Ground Sloth. They were once common in California.
osprey
This Osprey ( Pandion haliaetus) is using the man-made marina to its advantage in looking for prey.

Sea World

I have some new insight into this marine amusement park, but once I started putting my thoughts down on paper I realized it deserved its own post.


Look for it soon…

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